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Atwater Vitki

It's Up To Us

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My last posting regarding the dilemma of our old neighbor's cats has brought a sickening reality to mind....it's simply up to us to handle the problems of animal over population.

The old excuse of "we can't afford the costs" involved with spaying and neutering pets is as lame as saying one more drink will cure alcoholism. Yes, it's getting absolutely astronomical in expense to care for pets, but adding more to the problem won't help.

The last month of our dealing with an old neighbor's problem (because they refuse to) has really brought some disturbing things to our attention.

In the last 5 years, 12 brand new "no kill" pet shelters have been opened in the 8 counties surrounding us. They were all full to capacity within
weeks
of opening. I don't have complete statistics for state and nation, but similar
everywhere.

The SPCA in all 58 counties in California will not be able to take
any
new dog or cat until roughly 2016 according to the manager at the local shelter. I don't have complete statistics for nation, but similar
everywhere.

The Animal Control or "Pound" will take only a very select few pets, and only for very short periods before being put down. In most cases only "nuisance animals" will be taken
by officers
and are put down within 24-72 hours.

SPCA "Adoption Fees" are astronomical $120+ for "puppies" and $100+ for "kittens" and then theres' the
mandatory
follow up vets visits and spat/neuter fees.

25 phone calls this past week to area shelters and "possible" help (phone #'s and leads given by SPCA and other groups) have gone unanswered for trying to find a home for "Moon". The perpetrators of her roaming free finally took her somewhere, but won't divulge where...we
know
it was not to the pound or shelter.

So the conclusion Kay and I have made is....It's Up To Us.....and of course fellow animals lovers, to solve our own problems. As usual, once again, the "authorities" have let us down. Just like alcohol, drug and child abuse the official stance and solution for unwanted pets isn't working and hasn't worked for a very long time.

We tried for well over a year (late 2009 to early 2011) to get our local vets to group together and have one day a month as a free or very low cost spay/neuter day. Just in Merced County there are 21 vets and 15 active facilities so even 2 days a month wouldn't be impossible. While veterinarian medical suppliers claim the costs involved are less than $5.00 per spay/neuter, getting these vets to volunteer their time is like asking them to donate a kidney, arm or leg.

I wrote 31 letters to vets outlining a very cost effective plan and asking to meet so there could be a scheduling of services. I got the 3 local newspapers to agree to reduce the advertising fees to almost $0.00 (zero) for announcing the services. I even got our local Congressman and Assemblyman to entertain the idea of this whole program...and... and...and....

The only ones that didn't get involved were the veterinarians!!

Now if a simpleton pin head such as myself can get at least half the footwork done for some sort of program that works how come there is so much resistance by those that you would think loved animals too?? The expense of becoming a vet exceeds that of Md. by nearly 50% and takes and additional 4-6 years of schooling. So of course $ is the biggest factor. By getting the good Senator involved, for creating legislation that would allow for a given $tax-credit amount for veterinarians on their annual income taxes for their donation of time to spaying and neutering.

In short, by talking with many pet lovers, we came up with a workable idea and were in the hopes of letting those who knew the angles figure out the logistics involved.....but no, alas, they are content with the status quo, they must be or I think they would have done something.

So once again it's up to those who have the least to make it work.

"Underground pet railroad" is one idea I really like that was presented by one of our Members here...thank you G!... and a network of foster care and temp sitters is another that might work....thank you *!...but the bottom line, we're on our own to do what we can for those who can't.

Any other suggestions???

Blessings of Peace,

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The animal hospital where I used to work had a fund for those who could not afford care. Most of our spay/neutering and vaccinations came out of that fund. We used to challenge our pet parents to start a coupon kitty bank - the savings from using coupons were placed in a "kitty" for a kitty (get it?). Because we were a training hospital, the interns agreed to take a pay cut so that we could offer "lower fare" treatment. Of course, every intern is supervised by a licensed expert, so fido or fluffy got two doctors for less. We also had "don't litter" days, where we would fund raise for fixes.

The most clever spay/neuter program we offered was around Thanksgiving. The poster read "You cook the turkey, we'll handle the fixings." We offered the operation near cost. We also had a collection station for those who wanted to support helping out a pet family in need.

Maybe I was fortunate enough to know generous vets, but we had no problem getting the docs to reduce the rates and donate their time. So many regulars were impressed that we never needed to beg to raise money for our fund for needy pets. Most of the time the fund was used for the more expensive emergency room care, and "secret santas" and "secret admirers" donated spays and neuters year round.

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Getting a vet college and the "kitty fund" are both good ideas, but alas one's that in the last couple of years have been completely overwhelmed. On one hand, who can blame a vet that starts their career $250k-$350k in the hole due to college expenses, but that's why I wrote several letters to my Congressman (and actually got some communication in return!) outlining the tax credit plan. We have a wonderful group of about 6-7 retired folks here in our development that have contributed many hours of their time also writing politicos, getting petitions going etc etc

It honestly seems, as usual in the good ol' USA, that the problem has to be so overwhelmingly futile, no one seems to know where to start on a solution. Bless the hearts of those vets who have helped. I work with two local shelters/adoption and have personally collected over $1,000.00 in donations after hours of standing in front of local supermarkets with a "Pennies for Pets" can. There's always initial interest, but by the 3rd or 4th time "already gave" seems to be the standard answer from most.

In some areas, like Galveston, Tucson and Nogales... I've even read of horrifying stories of cats and dogs being shipped by the truck-load south of the border for food of all things.

This is a problem that needs to be addressed on the local, state and national level, but it takes a lot of $ to make much of anything happen. The best we've able to get around here, maybe due to this being one of the top five poverty areas in the nation, is a $15 neuter, $10 spay coupon from Happy Tails Shelter, so it still costs nearly $80-90 per kitten to get "fixed" because they have to also get a full medical and the first round of rabies and vaccines....by law.

My niece that past away in 1997 was in her 7th year of vet college and had a terrific professor that had a group of local vets giving all they could to area shelters. Unfortunately several of them have passed and the rest have retired. One of those gives 2 days every 3 months to free spay/neuter...my list alone is on a 18 month waiting list and there's about a dozen of us with coordinated lists (website etc)

Thanks for the suggestions and I look forward to hearing other ideas....those of us who love our animals will do anything...even not eat like we've done...Bro Devon...I hear ya loud and clear on the 55th bag of Ramen and 101st can of beans....but these animals didn't ask to be born in a world where Hu-man's only think of self first.

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of noble no-kill shelters across the country, but unfortunately every dang one of them is faced with the same problem....Full To Capacity. The SPCA says they have over 3 million pups and kittens, cats and dogs in just their shelters. US wide animal control centers claim over 5 million cats and dogs per year are euthanized and yet the simple solution, spaying and neutering seems to be complex quantum physics to the public masses...why???

During our trying to solve this local problem, we gathered all of our receipts for our brood, roughly $2300.00 (not including food) have been put into 7 cats, 3 of which are no longer with us. Our entire brood is "fixed", up to date on necessary vaccines and we've got a descent vet that even gives us phone consults since she trusts our diagnosis and decisions on minor issues...so it all $ave$...but we're just one household in a sea of people like I wrote about that refuse to do squat about their pets.

Grrr...I didn't mean go off....but I'm sure ya'll know how I feel about proper pet care...it is indeed next to godliness! :dirol:

Blessings of Peace,

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maddening, are you kidding? but way to advocate viking!

and on a few levels, vets who are unable to fit some pro bono work into their busy schedules and people who don't consider, when getting a cat or a dog, that vet care might be necessary at some point - and then of course those rescuers left to clean up and fund the mess, sheesh

my vet back east was old school. like brother devon's, he would always give me a discount for my fosters, bless him. he had been my vet for twenty five years though, and was in a solo practice. he knew that he was saving a rescue organization (and me) some much needed capital

the cost of vet care astounds even me - I've had emergency surgeries due to the ingestion of non-edible items, oral cancer, run of the mill spay and neuters and elder care. we always kept it simple, use homeopathic remedies mostly and we have been lucky too

each one reach one, teach one has amazing and far flung results :) it does my crusty old heart good to think about the possibility that a number of young adults really love and respect companion animals because of their dog loving pre-school teacher - who loved to tell dog stories and was known to bring hers to school on occasion. I'm proud to be fairydog/cat mother to a few four leggeds out there :)

each one reach one teach one <3

(sarah loved the picture and is due back next week cross fingers - your friend on the underground railroad :))

Edited by grateful

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do you have a local Vet College?

I had the privledge of living near one of the finest vet hospitals in the country. and unfortunately, I have had to avail myself of their services on more than one occasion. they may have a few special discount programs but are otherwise astronomically expensive.

frequently overheard at the dog park, "oh no! you had to go to penn?"

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A lot of our specialists and vets went to Tuft's. I am so proud of the number of vets, vet techs and other professionals at all levels who paid it forward. Even the administrative and secretarial staff at the hospital (that was my area), would work countless hours off the clock and offer a portion of our pay to help out. Sadly, one area we became too good at was the end of a life. We offered cardboard caskets in all sizes for deceased pets. In order to give them an air of respect and not just hand a "boxed pet" out the loading dock, our staff grew a beautiful garden of roses and wildflowers and would arrange a respectful floral spray with a ribbon and an approprate sympathy card. Many -- too many -- times, this minister would (always at request of the family) say a prayer for the dying or deceased pet. When I first was asked and management caught wind of it, I was blessed with the icy stares and nasty comments. When I replied that I would only do it at the request of the family and not impose it, and that pets are some of God's most innocent creatures, they backed down. In fact, the owner allowed me to go through the entire hospital once with a bucket of holy water and a pine brush and bless the entire hospital that we may serve as many pets and save those we can, mercifully tend to those we can't and bring comfort to pets and their human companions alike. I was honored. I am thankful the days are gone where I had to hastily arrange flowers and place a loved one in a casket, but we serve as we are needed. Many a dollar had been donated by staff to go to thrift shops and the like and buy up blankets and comforters. We had a deal with the local Salvation Army store to buy all the unfit blankets and bedding - stuff that had a stain or tear that made it unfit for sale. We bought them for pennies on a bag and a wonderful team of volunteers would cut out usable sections and sew them into linings and pillows to place in those caskets to soften the blow of presenting the pets we could not save. It hurt like hell each time we had to do it, but it was a service of mercy, and I would do it again before allowing someone to just get a cardboard box with their best friend in it like a package from some department store.

The easiest way to make money is the coupons for critters, as long as people are willing to put a portion (or better yet, all) of the coupon savings into the donation. I realize these days everyone seems to be in need and everyone has their hand out, but pets did not ask to be born.

One of the most compelling series of posters for spaying and neutering was done by a fellow student when I was going for my associates. An art major did a series of print ad mock ups featuring either a dog or a cat with a condom or a box of "the pill" with a tag line "Hey Dad (or Hey Mom), we need to talk...." The ad copy went on to say that our pets can't read the instructions for birth control and have a hard time using it with their paws, so it is up to pet parents to do the right thing and take care of their kids. I wish I could show you a copy. It's been more than 10 years since I saw those prints, and I still see the images clearly in my mind. Maybe it is time for someone else to run that campaign again.

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I had the privledge of living near one of the finest vet hospitals in the country. and unfortunately, I have had to avail myself of their services on more than one occasion. they may have a few special discount programs but are otherwise astronomically expensive.

frequently overheard at the dog park, "oh no! you had to go to penn?"

Just need to get one professor on board for doing a free clinic and it will catch on.

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It really IS that easy. let me give you an example. I help start a scholarship fund with one other guy. It was our brain child...it only took one corporate suit to buy in to get it started. We have award $30,000 in scholarships every year for the last 5 years and for the last 4 years we have awarded and additional $10,000 in science teaching tool grants. Note: each scholarship is equal to about 1 term of classes (4) at the in state tutiton rate.

After the first corporate suit gave money, we were able to leverage that to get others to do the same, we are now prepping for our 6th annual scholarship banquet.

The key for us to be able to get all this money is simply that we are passionate about STEM education as it IS America's future if we are to remain a top country and all the stats show the US is lagging behind in STEM compared to other western country. We then took that passion and went to corporations that use STEM graduates and used our passion to ignite thier passion. Not only is this a tax deductable donation, but it is really an investment back in to the US and specifically back in to your industry.

You just have to find that one professor that is passionate about being a Vet, get him to buy in, and then he will pull his students with him and can be used to leverage other professors in to the program.

I will say that passion is what gets them to do it, but not having a well defined plan on HOW your going to do it (ie, formal charity, location, a method of getting the supplies and medications, etc) laid out will prevent them from doing it.

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I salute you folks for this endeavor. It really matters a lot to me and to our 4 footed friends :)

We do our best, with what we have for ourselves, then look into the slightly larger city-wide, then slightly bigger county-wide, then huge state and nation-wide levels. There are top-notch lawyers and lobbyists for the ASPCA that handle the big stuff. From us insignificant individuals to the large organizations, we just do the best we can for our parts of this ever growing problem. The responsible people here and elsewhere that do spay and neuter aren't asking for much, just that everybody else Do That Which is Right....spay/neuter, love and care for their tiny little piece of a huge nation-wide problem.

Blessings Be,

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We do our best, with what we have for ourselves, then look into the slightly larger city-wide, then slightly bigger county-wide, then huge state and nation-wide levels. There are top-notch lawyers and lobbyists for the ASPCA that handle the big stuff. From us insignificant individuals to the large organizations, we just do the best we can for our parts of this ever growing problem. The responsible people here and elsewhere that do spay and neuter aren't asking for much, just that everybody else Do That Which is Right....spay/neuter, love and care for their tiny little piece of a huge nation-wide problem.

Blessings Be,

spay and neuter. educate, that's what's up to us, the advocates

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There's been a lot of talk on here about adopting and the responsibilities that go along with it and I sure appreciate everyone's input. In some cases, like ours, it's not a question of adoption though...we seem to be a magnet for strays. Out of many, many houses surrounding us that have dogs, cats or dogs and cats, the strays seem to zero in on our place. We know this is because our brood is out telling every kitty they see "Sure, com'on over our place! Our folks will take good care of you!" We've since had a good talkin' to our furry kids!

"Jojo" and "Her-Be" are good examples. Their momma showed up on our patio determined to have her babies under our bbq stand/box. I originally built a large roll around wooden crate size box to put an outdoor liter pan inside. Which became a bbq stand as none of our kids would use it. So the momma squirmed her way inside and had her babies...nice, safe and protected area...good on her part. Getting the briquettes and other stuff out with a feral momma inside was yet another silly move I have scars from!

As any true pet lover knows, there's no way you can walk away from the pleading eyes of a frightened, hungry kitty or dog. Even where I go scrounge for alum cans behind Save-Mart Grocery, there's a couple of stray dogs that have taken up residence. The stacks of pallets make for easy access to the dumpsters and one of the homeless people there has even made them all a temp shelter. Yes, I always "split" whatever cans I get with the fella that lives there, even though I've only seen him a couple of times in 5 years. The last time I saw him he was surprised someone would leave "Four bucks and change" in a bag for him (= prob 3 # worth of cans). I've seen what seems like hundreds of dollars worth of deli-wrapped sandwiches tossed out by the market in that dumpster so I see why it's a place stray people and animals would gather.

Anyway, back on point, even when taking in strays, we have to consider limits. Until we find a home for "Bucky" and as sad as it sounds for "Jojo" and "Her-Be" as well, we simply can not take on any more responsibility of pets. Not only does our lease depend on following community rules, but we can't afford any more. Emergency services are a choke every time they happen now, but somehow we find a way.

The shelters are full to the max as I've said, interest in supporting "strays" is at an all time low and despite dedication and earnest caring spirits like our small group of professionals doing what we can, the problem continues to grow.

As grateful said above, even if a persons' only gift to a stray or domestic was to get them spayed or neutered, one by one we can all help this plight. A $70-$100 "gift" of a spay/neuter is worth more, in the long run, than 20, even 30 - $10 donations to various pet projects.

If everybody acts locally it will, in the end, have an effect globally!!

Blessings of Peace,

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One of the more radical approaches I have seen by a pet advocate was to hand out cards at a safer sex discussion at school. (The school hands out free condoms and information.) The card basically asked fellow students to give a donation to support a spay or neuter. A couple of the slogans I remember were "because we can always say no" and "because cats/dogs don't know how to use birth control." Clever but effective.

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Very clever BrDevon....one I'll suggest at our next meeting. We have 2 High Schools here and getting the info out to kids is a great idea. Actually, even elementary age...of course not with "safe sex" routine, but the importance of spay and neuter.

Thanks.

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Of course it can be adapted to a tongue in cheek puppy or kitten with a "speech balloon" saying to a cat or dog "where do kittens/puppies come from?"

Or for a slightly older audience who can handle a slightly disturbing image: a puppy or kitten in a trash can with a caption "They aren't trash - control litters - spay or neuter."

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I made the mistake of going to petfood express on sunday :( where I was immediately greeted by at least twelve pups of various ages and conformations looking for homes. the little ones were sponsored by a no kill shelter group, st.francis of assisi. they were each and every one, so sweet. forget the car seat cover I'd wandered in to purchase ..

I am in the same position you are viking, and while my pack has at times been rather large, we are now maxed out at one dog, two cats for a number of reasons. when we have visitor dogs in we're totally over the top ..

but the plan for the new year calls for a bigger place, room for my business and a new pup, and now after meeting those beautiful little spirits, room to foster again :).

then all I can think of is my foster who ended up staying for fourteen years and I question my resolve to be just a stop on their way to their real home

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We have the unfortunate problem of people thinking the golf course is the place to dump their unwanted kittens and puppies and every winter takes its toll on dozens left out in the snow. The uncaring selfish people that cause this sort of terrible end for so many animals will hopefully have their acts judged in the end.

The problem is not much better up here and it breaks our hearts to see so many strays all over the city. We do have a few caring veterinarians that do what they can but even with that the problem seems to overtake everyone.

I wish you all the best in taking care of the ones you do.

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